In the Coffs Harbour district blueberries are now the dominant crop, accounting for $200 mln of the $250 mln agriculture industry. But now the community on the New South Wales mid north coast is facing the environmental impact of pesticides and fertiliser runoff from these intensive farms. Some scientists say it may be reaching a crisis point, as high levels of chemicals used to grow the berries are ending up in the water. During heavy rain, water can be seen coursing down hills into creeks and rivers carrying sediment, high levels of fertiliser and other chemicals that are used to grow and protect blueberries.
It ultimately ends up in lakes and the sea, and scientists warn it is now threatening the north coast’s other major industries: fishing and prawn trawling. The Coffs Harbour city council has been increasingly intervening to demand development applications when farms are set up or expanded in order to manage the problem.